Question: Why are tours to Mekong Delta packaged tours? Can we travel on our own?
Answer: Because traveling around islands in Mekong Delta requires using the boat. If you travel on your own, booking a private boat might result in higher cost. Moreover, the package tour offer a complimentary service with an English speaking guide and many stop-overs in between so that travelers can get chances to see how they manufacture coconut candy, pop rice and other handicraft products. Traveling alone might be troublesome because the local people are not really good at communicating in English. If you are native to Vietnamese language, you can try, though!
Vietnamese cooking styles are often based on fresh ingredients which can be easily bought at wet markets. However, a wide range of microwaveable food is available mostly at the supermarkets to satisfy the needs of busy people who do not have enough time for cooking or find cooking so inconvenient. At the supermarket, frozen food is stored separately from canned food. If you don’t know where to get it, feel free to ask supermarket staff. After getting the food, just follow the instructions to make your meals correctly. Some require frying instead of putting in the microwave.
Frozen food in Vietnam might not be stored as long as food in your home country. So, make sure you take a careful look at the expiration date before you buy. Citimart offers more food with Western style in comparison with other supermarkets. You might be lucky enough to find your favorite brands at Citimart also.
If you want to purchase food in bulk, you should visit Metro hypermarket (equivalent to Sam’s Club or Canada Superstore) as long as you have a Metro membership card. Vietnamese food might have different taste from yours and you might not be quite sure which food to get, why don’t you try one of each kind and come back to get some more when you know what your favorites are? To avoid long queues at the check-out, it is advisable that you go to supermarkets on weekdays.
There are several methods to get from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City such as travelling by motors, cars or airplane, but the most interesting way should be travel by train. Thanks to the significant investment of the government, the Unification Trains (also called North-South Express Train) now connect Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in one integrated route, with the direct travel time often less than 40 hours. The magnificent scenery outside of the train windows is also the attractive point of travelling by trains. Along the road from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City, there are a considerable number of beautiful attractions such as mountains, valleys, oceans and forests for you to witness and enjoy. The only worth considering point of travelling by train is that the safety of the train is not totally ensured with sometimes serious accidents occurred on the route, but It is still in the acceptable level, especially in the modern trains. More information about the train from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City can be found at the North – South Express Train of this site.
Here are some suggested hotels that you can consider when you come to Ho Chi Minh City:
- Liberty 4 Hotel (265 Pham Ngu Lao, District 1): This is one of the three star hotels name Liberty in Ho Chi Minh city and the nearby area. This hotel is a proper choice with the lowest price of roughly USD42 for one night. The room is well equipped with adequate facilities like TV, private toilet, Air conditioners…
- Empress Hotel (136 Bui Thi Xuan, District 1): This is not a huge hotel, but still attractive to the costumers with the unique and beautiful decoration inside. Also, the attitude of the staff and the service here are also the vantages of this hotel. The price for a night at this hotel is USD36 for the ROH room.
- Kelly Hotel (42-44 Thu Hoa Khuan, District 1): The hotel is located near Ben Thanh market, one of the most attractive places in Ho Chi Minh City. This hotel has warm atmosphere with ingenious decoration that fascinate the tourists to come in. The price of this hotel is around USD 38 to 42 for a night in one good room with enough facilities.
1. By taxi: it would be best to negotiate the fare before going, which ranges from VND 300,000 to VND 400,000 ($15-20)
2. By bus: Many hotels in Hoi An provides bus transfer from Da Nang International Airport to Hoi An, for about $2-3/each. These minivans are often comfortable enough and carry 6-10 people. Another choice is taking the Sinh Café, the popular bus pass service which makes a stop in Hoi An.
The cheapest bus, though, is the city bus which can be found at 33 Dien Bien Phu, Thanh Khe District, Danang. This bus runs every hour and costs about $1 for one-way ticket. With that low price, you have to accept the fact that the buses are quite old and don’t run fast.
3. By motorbike taxi: Also known as xe-om, this is the most common method to get around in Vietnam. A trip from Da Nang to Hoi An by motorbike usually costs VND 150,000 to VND 250,000/each, depending on your negotiation. Or if you wish to travel to Hoi An within a day, you can rent a motorbike and ride it yourself.
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Motor rental service is available in Hanoi and you can easily find the shops which offer this service on main streets like Ba Trieu, Hai Ba Trung, Tran Hung Dao, and especially small streets in Hanoi Old Quarter like Hang Be, Ta Hien, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Dinh Liet.
There are many kinds of motorbikes from the most popular ones in Vietnam like Wave, Dream, Viva… to favorite transportation means of backpackers like Simson, Minsk. The cost ranges from $6 to $50 per day depending on motor type.
Foreign tourists just has to leave one hard copy of his/her passport and one kind of identity papers like driving license or passport in the shop, then take the motor and begin a joyful trip. These rented motor taxi is usually empty of gas so you will need to find a gas station to fill it up (see How much fuel costs in Vietnam).
Monthly motorcycle rent is also available with Rentabike (www.rentabikehanoi.com/) starting from $50 a month. If you plan to stay long term in Hanoi, you may purchase a used motorbike from a fellow expat - such as visiting New Hanoian classifieds section.
Taking place every Sunday’s morning, Bac Ha is the local market where ethnic communities living in Lao Cai Province gather to exchange and trade goods. Bac Ha Market attracts tourists from all over Vietnam as well as foreigners for the original and diverse features of culture. People can visit Bac Ha Market by catching buses from Lao Cai Terminal or Sapa Terminal, as it is located 70km far from Lao Cai City and 80km from Sapa Town.
Every day, there are three buses departing from Lao Cai Terminal at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m., with the fare around VND 70,000. In addition, passengers who travel by train can get off at Pho Lu station, which is only 50km far from the market; and then use local buses or motorbike service.
From Sapa, tourists have several alternatives to go to Bac Ha Market: buses or motorbike. There are direct buses from Sapa Terminal with the ticket price of VND 80,000; and it will take up to three hours to reach Bac Ha Market.
Tourists can also hire motorbike (Minsk is the most popular) for VND 100,000/day and enjoy the wildly picturesque sceneries on the way to Bac Ha. The route passes through Ban Phiet; then following Highway 70 for about 40-50km, turning left at the three-way crossroad leading to Bac Ha.
Tips: Use our Route Planner Tool (http://routeplanner.vietnamonline.com/) to find the best way to get from Sapa to Bac Ha.
Some shopping venues that you should check out: Personally, I highly recommend Saigon Square (77-78 Nam Ky Khoi Nghia Street) which is the heaven for shopping with good prices. The shopping center is just a step away from Ben Thanh market. Yet, where to shop also depends on what you want to buy. For example, for camping facilities, you could only find at Dan Sinh market.
In terms of spa, Spa Tropic is great place that provides you the best mind-healing treatment. (http://www.spatropic.com/). Happy Ending Massage Yuan is also a good choice for travelers with tight budget (about $10-15 for food and body massage) and it is quite central ( on Le Thanh Tong street). Good luck !
Question: How to get from Hanoi to Sapa?
Answer: There is no nearby airport in Sapa or Lao Cai, therefore, the only way to get from Hanoi to Sapa is by road or by rail. For a safe and convenient journey, tourists should book overnight train, bus, or private car to arrive at the destination.
For those who want to enjoy the privacy, booking private car is the best choice for an ideal trip from Hanoi to Sapa. Of course, private car will cost you more than other public vehicles like bus or train.
As the service industry has begun to flourish in Vietnam, there are many options of overnight trains to meet foreigner’s requirements such as Orient Express, Sapaly Express, King Express, Victoria Express, and so forth. Generally, most of these trains are beautifully decorated and well-appointed with modern amenities to ensure guest’s comfort. The price fluctuates from US$ 35 to 180 depending on how luxury the train is.
In addition to overnight trains, buses are ideal options for budget travelers. The time of bus schedule is flexible and the price are more reasonable, more or less than US$15. Some reputable buses highly recommended for you are Bus Hung Thanh Sort Berth – WC, Sapa Express Bus, and Good Morning Sapa Bus.
For detailed information about bus and train services, you can visit https://www.hanoisapatrain.com/ticket.html